An effective integrated pest management (IPM) program implemented in commercial and institutional facilities is necessary to protect the health and safety of staff and customers, as well as to keep the facility itself free from the potential hazards of pest infestations. Effective pest management requires a coordinated and systemic effort by managers.
At Solid Rock Facility Management Company , we have identified six IPM principles and practices that combine to create IPM programs. While each situation is different, six major components are common to all IPM programs:
• pest identification
• monitoring and assessing pest numbers and damage
• guidelines for management to take action
• preventing pest problems
• using biological, cultural, physical/mechanical and chemical management tools
• assessing the effects of pest management.
How to achieve success.
Once the situation reaches action thresholds for a designated pest, managers can implement the next component of IPM, proper pest identification.
Proper insect identification determines the next course of action and whether the action threshold for that insect requires specific control measures. Control measures can include physical control, mechanical control and, if needed, chemical control.
One of the simplest control methods is to physically control insects in an area or building by means of exclusion.
Once control actions have been taken, the final step of the IPM program is an assessment by the manager or pest control professional to determine whether the control methods used were successful and reduced or eliminated the pests to below their threshold action level. If the control measures were successful, managers should make the proper documentation to aid in future pest issues that might arise.
Challenges and misconceptions
Even the best laid IPM plans can present challenges for managers. Action thresholds sometimes can be difficult to determine due to personnel or customers who have different tolerances for specific pests. Challenges also could arise if a manager is not properly trained in the steps of the IPM program and the way it works in that specific facility.
Poor training can lead to incorrect pest identification, which then could result in improper use of pesticides or unnecessary pesticide applications, putting staff, personnel and customers at risk. Close relationships with a properly licensed and reputable professional pest control company are essential to overcoming IPM challenges.
Properly educating in-house staff about the IPM program is also important to help identify problem areas or potential pest issues. Effective communication between staff and facility managers is also critical for a successful IPM program.
Managers also might have misconceptions about IPM programs. For example, not all IPM programs are the same. Every facility, whether it is a food processing facility or a medical facility, has different requirements. No two buildings are alike, and facilities have varying threshold levels. A medical facility might have zero tolerance for flies, where a large manufacturing plant may have a higher threshold level for the same pest.
Implementing IPM programs in facilities allows managers to use an established pest control plan when specific insect threshold levels are exceeded. An IPM program also helps keep occupants and visitors safe by knowing set action thresholds and a plan are in place to manage pest problems, and it helps identify and eliminate the pest problem at the root instead of just controlling pests that are visible.
A thorough management plan also helps managers determine the best course of action to eliminate a potential pest problem. This course could be using physical controls as mentioned earlier and might never need the use of pesticides, which will help keep the facility safer for people and the environment.
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